You are now in the main content area


We aim to develop Media & Design Innovation scholars and engage researchers ready to apply and evolve unique design methods to complex problems enabled by technology.

This doctoral program is focused on a research-practice agenda that involves producing a creative project, demonstrable prototype or application. Research will be enriched by intersecting and collaborating with faculty members and graduate students in the existing master’s programs at The Creative School.

The curriculum is original and will introduce students to the study of innovative research methodologies. Students will complete a qualitative research methods course that supports their research question and a practice-based research methods course focused on the emerging fields of Media & Design Innovation and research-creation methodologies. The curriculum also includes a required graduate colloquium, two elective courses drawn from affiliated graduate programs and a directed reading course to prepare for comprehensive examinations.

Year 1

DI8010: Doctoral Colloquium

The colloquium introduces graduate students to one another and The Creative School faculty affiliated with the program. Faculty presentations on relevant project research will be broadly contextualized through an interdisciplinary and expansive reading course that surveys the fields of creative media and design. A thematic focus relevant to practice-based research will be provided to demonstrate connections across the program areas of concentration.

DI8011: Qualitative Research Methods

This course exposes students to a variety of epistemological approaches. (If warranted by the research project, a student would be allowed to take a Quantitative Research Methods course in place of the Qualitative Research Methods course pending availability within the university.)

DI8012: Practice-based Research Methods

This required course investigates methodologies associated with the emerging fields of project-based research. Research that incorporates or results in demonstration projects, creative objects and prototypes will be studied.

Graduate Elective

One of the two required graduate-level electives will be taken in the second semester. Graduate electives are selected from graduate programs across The Creative School. The expectation is that the doctoral candidate will choose an elective in an area of concentration that supports the dissertation.

DI8013: Directed Reading

The course will help to prepare the student for the Comprehensive Examination to follow in the winter semester of second year. The reading list is prepared by the student and approved by the supervisory committee.

Year 2

Graduate Elective

One of two graduate electives may be taken in the fall or winter semester.

Graduate Elective

One of two graduate electives may be taken in the fall or winter semester.


Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination will be successfully completed by the end of the second year of study.

The Comprehensive Examination tests breadth and depth of knowledge as applied to the program’s research concentration in media and design and it is to be scheduled following the completion of course work within the program. It is expected that the candidate will develop research questions and reading lists to support an essay comprising the ‘major comprehensive’ in a concentration that is closest to the research project and two ‘minor comprehensives’ in the other concentrations. The comprehensive exam comprises of three take-home essay questions from a series of questions proposed by the candidate and approved by the supervisory committee. An oral defense of the Comprehensive Exams will follow, normally within two weeks of their submission.

Dissertation Proposal

A dissertation proposal must be approved by the supervisory committee in the second year of the program and is required by the end of the spring semester of second year.

Year 3 and 4

The last two years of the program are dedicated to the research and production of the dissertation project and its documentation and the contextualization in a written exegesis (critical explanation of the body of work) of approximately 30,000-40,000 words (80-100 pages). Documentation of the practice component of the thesis is required and will take a form appropriate to the work. Possible examples may include documentation of an exhibition or prototypes for a computer app or a line of clothing for a candidate working within the field of fashion design.

The Creative School Electives

The Creative School offers graduate elective courses open to all students in the faculty. If you are interested in taking an elective outside of your program, please contact your program administrator for information on how to enroll and make sure the course can be used for credit in your program. Please note that spots for non-program students in graduate electives are limited.

You Belong at The Creative School

As a student in the Media & Design Innovation PhD program, you'll be part of The Creative School, a dynamic faculty offering 27 degree programs in media, design and creative industries. Through global experiences and transdisciplinary opportunities, our students emerge as some of the most in demand and employable graduates anywhere.

Ready to apply?